A new bridging programme centre has been launched for young persons aged 9-14 who have never received catechism, missed catechesis for several years, or need to prepare themselves for baptism.
The East District Centre Bridging Programme, managed by the Catechetical Office (CO), started in January.
Based at the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, the one-year programme aims to serve the needs of the families living in the east, as many parents find it difficult to send their children to the main centre at the Catholic Archdiocesan Education Centre (CAEC) at Highland Road.
The East District Centre currently has 17 children enrolled in its programme.
The CO programme was first launched at the CAEC in January 2014.
Sessions are held here on Saturdays from 9.30am-11am for those in Pri 3, 5 and 6, and from 11.30am-1pm for those in Pri 4 and Sec 1. On Thursdays, the programme runs from 5pm-6.30 pm for those in Pri 4 and 5 and Sec 1.
CO ensures that the catechists are qualified to run the sessions.
Previously when catechetical director Fr Erbin Fernandez and Ms Jane Lau, then coordinator of parish catechesis, visited parishes between 2010 and 2013, they found that parish catechetical teams faced a challenge in helping children who had missed catechesis for years integrate back into existing sessions.
For young persons aged between 7 and 15, the coordinators also faced the challenge of finding catechists willing to volunteer for extra sessions to serve this group.
Through the bridging centres, CO hopes to help parishes pool and share limited resources without compromising on meeting the needs of those who need adapted forms of catechesis, while ensuring that young people and their families are closely connected back to life in the parish communities and catechetical programmes.
Seven parent formation sessions are also offered to help them connect with what is being presented in the sessions, while a three-day retreat is offered for young people who had missed preparation for the sacraments of Reconciliation and First Holy Communion.
Ms Christina, a parent whose nine-year-old son Xavier is attending the programme at CAEC shared, “When I ask him to join me for an activity like jogging, he will refuse but when I ask him to go to Mass with me, even when he is busy doing his own things, he will drop everything and go with me”.